July 27, 2011


Last night at my 8th Pacific I had snap in my legs, so unlike the previous week. Maybe it was smelling the barbeque before the start. BUDU Racing, the sponsors of the weekly races, always does a bbq near the end of the season. It is always a fun way to celebrate the racing and family atmosphere. Due to the bbq we only raced for 30 mins, about half of normal.
We were to race the flats with points per lap, but due to an accident on the drag strip we had to change the course to the lounger (and more fun) "down the escape ramp." We started on the flats on top, headed west for almost a mile then turned back to the east and down a short steep straight ramp to the bottom of the curving uphill rollers that put is back on the top.
There were about 30 riders in the 4/5 race, and before the start we were asked to go down a few hundred yards on the flat and sweep the course and clear it of all the rocks and debris kicked up earlier by a lawn mower. It felt good to do our part. But 3 of us almost missed the start and rolled up just as the group was leaving.
I felt so strong on the climbs and had no issues staying with the group. As we started the second lap I was at the back with a friend and asked if he wanted to attack with me. So I led us up the side and gave it 110% . But eventually I looked back and saw the pack strung out. They wouldn't let us go.
A crash occurred about halfway into the race on the small cimb but I was able to get around it and chase back.
But oh what a fun race! And the hot dogs and coke were delicious!

July 25, 2011


Today marks my two year anniversary of being a single speed rider. It was two years ago that I purchased a 54cm Specialized Tricross single speed cross bike off ebay. The seller was the parent of a very good junior rider in Kansas City and I bought the bike for a steal. My low bid was the only one. Both myself and the seller were surprised I got the bike for such a low price, especially considering that the bike was signed on the top tube by Tim Johnson.
I quickly discovered that 44x17 was the perfect gearing for me. I live in a hilly area and this gearing gets me up many of the climbs, and I can crank on the flats.
In the two years I have logged 2921.5 miles on her and she has become my mainstay training bike and tt bike.
I cannot sing the praises of single speed riding enough and encourage everyone to get one.

July 20, 2011


Flat not as in a tire, but flat as in no energy.
Last night was my 7th Pacific of the year, my second favorite course-clockwise starting on the flat and finishing at the top of the Escape Ramp, about a 300 meter long steep straight shot that kicks some at the end. I always have had fun on it and once attacked and stayed away for 1.5 laps. But that was 2 years ago.
We were to race one hour and the weather was quite odd-very dark and stormy to the east but mostly clear to the west, meaning we had to climb right into the sun. The temps were almost cool and there was a good wind blowing from the west, meaning a real tail wind on the top flat section.
Before the start I hung out and chatted single speed and fixie gearing with 2 very good local riders. I felt a bit honored to be included so started the race on a high. As we headed out I slowly worked my way to the front on the outside of the pack of 30 or so riders. Soon I was leading the pack as we descended on the back stretch through the very beautiful curvy and shaded sections. It felt weirtd knowing I was pulling the train as I could not hear anything but the head wind. Soon though I was being passed as we climbed the Escape Ramp. I held on near the back and then just rode at the back and middle for the next 20 minutes.
We then had a prime lap and I almost got dropped after the leaders went all out at the top of the climb. However, I was able to jump onto the back end of 2 guys chasing back and then we bridged. I sincerely thanked the rider from Farestart who did most of the pulling as we rejoined.
I was then able to ride with the group but always had issues on the climb, just no energy. I got to watch a friend attack with 4 to go and 3 others went with him. I could not chase him down so stayed at the back. They got caught in the middle of the climb.
Then with 2 to go the filed was splintered and I helped a small group chase back on, but then got blwon out the back on the climb. I did finish with my friend who attacked earlier, after we caught the back of the Masters.
I am glad I did it but was disappointed about my legs. Oh well, flat happens.
Next week it is the flats and BBQ night!
All the best to my teammates.

July 11, 2011

Tour of the Unattended or "How I Spent My Summer Vacation"

I had not had a real vacation in 11 months. I also had not done a stage race since the 2007 edition of the Elkhorn Classic in Baker City Oregon (4 stage 3 day event which is the best around).
I decided to take this whole week off from work. I do not have the money to go anywhere, but just not being at work is a vacation. The timing could not have been more perfect, as the Tour is on and Cascade Bicycle Studio (http://www.cascadebicyclestudio.com/) had decided to put on an unofficial stage race this week in conjunction with the TDF. It was a free event, 5 stages held over 5 days (M-F), timetrials really as we had to ride each course on our own and report our times, held on courses in the Seattle area. The weather has not been very nice this week-mostly cloudy with periodic showers every day. It has been a lot like the Tour-cloudy, some rain, mild and muggy).

Monday was stage One, a 9 mile TT from the little community of Leshi, on the west side of Lake Washington to Seward Park (4.5 miles to the south) and back. We could not use aero equipment and had to report our own times. I rode from my home in Issaquah, approximately 17 miles east, a nice hour warm up over Mercer Island and Lake Washington. I was racing my single speed again, and soon was on "the course." It was a relatively flat out and back course along Lake Washington. I did it around 11:20 am and there was not much vehicular traffic, but a few bikes out enjoying the nice weather (pc and mild temps). I had a nice outbound section and was soon headed back. I was pleasantly surprised to see I was being paced by a heron, flying just over the shoreline of the lake at about my 2 O'Clock. It stayed with me for a few miles. Quite a cool site. I also saw several baby geese in the lake with their adult chaperons. Another cool site. I ended up clocking a 25:39.7.

Tuesday was Stage Two-a 13.4 mile counterclockwise loop on nearby Mercer Island. I love Mercer Island as it has very few traffic lights/stop signs and is a local mecca for cyclists with great views of Mt. Rainier. I ride it several times a year in both directions, and most of my rides are now on my single speed. I live about 11 miles away, and rode from home so had a nice warm up and was once again on my single speed. After Monday's stage I discovered that there were 14 entrants in this race, 10 men and 4 women. I was 8th in the men's race and all the women were beating me. BUT I WAS THE ONLY ONE ON A SINGLE SPEED. I raced the course in the late morning but encountered a ton of traffic. I also had to pass a very slow tractor and had 3 stops in the last mile due to traffic signals and tree work. A rather anticlimactic finish. I clocked a 40:32, leaving me still in 8th.

Wendseday was stage 3, a 2.1 mile hillclimb on Cougar Mtn, which is only 2 miles from my condo. I used to ride this climb every week but had not ridden it in almost 2 years. It is a well known and respected and feared local climb, 2 miles of severe grade that kicks at the start and never ever really lets up. This is the only stage that I rode a geared bike, my Merlin Ultralite with Campy Record and climbing gears (39x28). I rode it last Sunday for the first time in almost 2 years. My own timed course is a little longer as I time it from the very beginning to the actual crest, about a minute longer than the race routes. My Sunday time was 19 mins, or 18 for the race route, my slowest ever but I was getting used to the climb again, what I call a "shakedown ride." My time for the race was 17:15, or 18 for my course. I was happy with it as it had poured for most of the night and morning. The road was a bit slick, making it difficult to get out of the saddle as my rear tire would slip. At the end of the day I discovered I had made up some time on the 7th place rider, who was now only 10 seconds ahead. I was about 4 minutes ahead of 9th place.

Thursday was Stage 4, a 27.1 counterclockwise loop around the South end of Lake Washington.
I once again raced my single speed and rode from home so had a nice warm up. The weather was not ideal as it had had been raining off and on and it was quite muggy. The roads were a bit slick so I could not go all out. My rear tire really slid out en route to the race when I braked at the bottom of a very short but steep hill. The race course crossed the north end of Mercer Island, crossed Lake Washington on I 90, then did the first half of Monday's stage before going around the south end of Lake Washington. There was a great deal of late morning traffic and I missed most of the lights and had to slow for countless stop signs. I had a strong second half and was a bit tempted to stop at the Cowgirls Espresso stand to be served by bikini clad barristas. A bit like the Tour I guess. Oh well, I had my race face on and could not be bothered by espresso pumping, bikini clad young women. I clocked a 1:22:14, and by the end of the day I was still 8th, losing ground on 7th. Unlike the Tour I had to clean and detail and lube my own bike. I do love my "garage time" as it allows me to zone out as I clean, lube and detail.

Yesterday was the 5th and final stage, a 25.4 mile counterclockwise loop of May Valley. The weather was okay-mostly cloudy and mild and a lite wind and a bit muggy. But no rain. The race literally started outside my door as I live on this course. Unbelievably convenient. I felt like I was in the Tour as I had a "medical control" at 9 am, giving blood per my doctor's instructions (possible high lood pressure issue). I also had a back issue after yesterday so had a patch on my back. I don't think I had any doping issues but I left my bandages on as proof of my "hardman" quality. I have ridden a clockwise version of this course from home but with a different middle section, so the middle section of this stage was unknown to me. Once again I was on my 44x17 trusty single speed, meaning I raced 74.9 miles of the 77 miles of racing on my single speed. The first half was hectic as I missed most of the numerous traffic lights and had to slow for all of the numerous stop signs and made my way through traffic and congestic areas. But the second half was a lot of fun as I raced on familiar roads, passing fruit stands and many horse and cattle ranches. I sprinted passed my condo to finish at the crosswalk, celebrating my finish with a nice iced mocha (no bikini clad baristas or podium girls to celebrate with). I discovered that I clocked the 4th fastest time for this stage (1:12:16) and jumped into 7th for the final position.

All in all I was quite happy with this "race." I did 99% on my single speed, have held 8th place since the first day, had no flats or mechanicals or road rage issues. I am quite happy with how I have spent my summer vacation and eagerly await the 2012 edit of the Tour of The Unattended.

Vive Le Tour!!!!!!!

July 6, 2011

Sights and Sounds

Last evening's race, a 57 minute affair on the flats at Pacific, was a night of sights and sounds:
3 colorful paragliders flying off Tiger Mountain just 2 miles from home as I drove to the race; glimpses of a very clear Mt. Rainier as I drove south on Highway 18; the myriad colors in all the team kits as I warmed up; Mt. Rainier in all its glory seen from the track; a dazzling blue sky; a very bright sun; young children throwing pinecones and riding tricycles; a very elderly woman sitting in the shade waiting for her great grandson to race; shadows thrown by the riders as we raced around the track; occasional blindness as we turned into the sun; a rider's raised hand as he flatted in the middle of the group; the pack as I glanced back after attacking at the start of the second lap; the spectators as I flew by on my futile solo break; the pack as it roared by after the catch; my friend Tom attacking from the rear with about 4 to go; the pack flying by as I attacked again with "2 to go;" the pack strung out around the last turn as we all sprinted for the win.
the laughter and chatter of riders; the sound of shifters; the roar of the wind; the cheer of the crowds; the hum of the tires; the sound of a flat; the click of cassettes as we freewheeled; the announcement over the bullhorn-"two to go;" the cowbell signaling last lap; heavy breathing and hacking cough after giving it my all in two attacks.

July 5, 2011

Soul Food/Miles

Every now and then I need to go out for a long, multiple hour solo ride-something that lets me escape. I got the chance last Saturday when I drove 60 miles to Crystal Mountain, a nice ski area not too far from Mount Rainier. There is a ton of climbing on this out and back course that is about 50 miles. I park at the top of Crystal, ride the 6 miles down, then climb for about 21 to the last parking lot on Mt. Rainier at Sunrise.

The weather was gorgeous-clear and warm. The parking lot was packed with late season skiers and it felt odd to walk to the bathroom amongst all the ski poles and ski boots. I had never ridden this route so early in the year and I had never seen the parking lot so crowded.

I brought two bikes, thinking I might try the single speed on the Crystal Mtn climb after the ride. The state hillclimb champs are on the Crystal Mtn course in August.

I was sad to discover my race number had been blown off my Merlin that had been on my roof rack. Thankfully I have old frame numbers at home with lots of sticky numbers so could make another one for free.

The descent off Crystal was a bit hairy as a crazy driver passed several uphill vehicles right after I started down. It is a narrow two lane road full of potholes and ruts and this guy was doing about 50 uphill right in my lane. I had to go to the far edge to avoid a headon. Not the way i wanted to start but grateful I wasn't hit. I then had a nice gentle climb up to the park entrance, and then wait a few minutes to pay my $5 park entry fee. I later discovered I somehow lost another $5 bill around this area. Hopefully someone found it.... The next 15 miles or so were a constant climb. I passed a few riders and one rider got me along with several vehicles who gave me lots of room. Everyone was in good spirits which made the ride that much more enjoyable.

Snow began about 7 miles into the climb and I was soon surrounded by the white stuff-just so beautiful and just what I needed. I did have a sweat issue with my right eye which allowed me to stop half way up to take a nice pic of Mt Rainier. I got going again and felt a lot better-no isses for the rest of the climb. I was in a harder gear than ever on it thanks to all my single speed training. I do a weekly climb (about a mile long) on my single which I dubbed "peeling the onion" (sheds my outer skin to reveal my core:)).

I came across the coolest sight about 3 miles later-a black bear crossing the road. I waited for almost a minute along with some descending riders and a car behind me for the bear to make up its mind.... I was able to get 3 very cool pics. I got quite close as the bear climbed back up the way it came. I was so stoked, the next few miles blew by as I road to Sunrise Point at 6100 feet, a beautiful turnout and viewing spot. I hung out there for a few minutes, talking to some Harley riders and taking pictures.

The last 3 miles to the actual terminus of the road are quite nice as the climb is very easy after the lookout and you have an incredible view of Mt. Rainier the entire way to the parking lot. I took a shot of Mt Rainier from my bike and then heard a familiar voice call out my name! What a small world-a friend was descending, someone I had not seen in weeks. I got her just on the edge of the picture which is pretty cool with the backdrop. I hung out at the parking lot for a few minutes shooting the last of my disposable camera.

I then flew down the mountain back to Crystal Mountain. The last 6 miles were a real challenge as I was suffering from the heat. The climb is pretty steep and was totally exposed to the sun. I usually enjoy the climb but have had issues on it before due to heat. I also was at the end of my longest ride in a couple of years. I did have to stop with a mile to go but recovered enough to finish. My time was so slow.

Overall i quite enjoyed the ride and this was a much needed dose of soul food/miles.

I hope everyone had a good Fourth!